Category Archives: USA Hockey

CANTLON’S CORNER: PACK HEAD TO SYRACUSE TO CRUNCH BEFORE XMAS

PACK HEAD TO SYRACUSE TO CRUNCH BEFORE XMAS

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

CROMWELL, CT – The chill of winter that permeates the air declares the holidays and the heart of the hockey season.

Before departing for the annual holiday break to spend time with family and loved ones, the Pack still have one more game to play on the road.

The Wolf Pack record stands at 9-14-3-1 (22 points) which has them last in the Atlantic Division, next to last in the conference, and 29th out of 30 teams in the AHL. The Pack is in Syracuse to battle the Crunch who, at 16-7-0-3 (35 points), are first in the North Division, second in the conference and third overall in the AHL. They will cross sticks at 7:00 pm Wednesday night at the War Memorial, their second meeting in over a week.

“It was a good weekend with good back-to-back games, but a far cry from where we want to be. They’re not that much different than Hershey. They have pretty good depth as far as skill players, and like Hershey, we won’t have the benefit of the last line change, so that will be a test. We just have to keep playing like we have been,” Pack head coach, Ken Gernander said. “It was very good that we got more scoring than we have on a night-by-night basis. I was happy with our weekend overall we did a lot of good things and even after looking at the video (after the game), there was a lot of positive reinforcement in our efforts.”  Continue reading

NEW YORK RANGERS PROSPECT REPORT: NOV. 28 – DEC. 4

prospect-reportNEW YORK RANGERS PROSPECT REPORT: NOV. 28 – DEC. 4Three Stars of the week1) Sergey Zborovskiy, D, Regina Pats (WHL) – Zborovskiy established single-game WHL career-highs with two goals, five assists, seven points, and a plus-eight rating on Dec. 3 vs. Prince Albert. He also recorded two points (one goal, one assist) and a plus-one rating on Dec. 4 at Swift Current to finish the week with nine points (three goals, six assists) and a plus-nine rating in two contests. The Rangers’ third round pick (79th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has tallied a point in 18 of the 22 WHL games he has played in 2016-17 (six goals, 19 assists), and he has posted a plus-two rating or better in 13 of the 22 contests.

Zborovskiy has already established a WHL career-high in assists and has tied his WHL career-high in points (25) through 22 games this season. He leads the WHL in plus/minus rating this season (plus-38), and he ranks third among WHL defensemen in points per game (1.14). In addition, he is tied for ninth among WHL defensemen in goals, is tied for 10th among WHL defensemen in points, is tied for 11th among WHL defensemen in assists in 2016-17. Continue reading

(SAT) RANGERS DOUBLE UP CAROLINA

post-game-notescapturebox-score1capture   Game Summary                             CAR: M. Leighton (L)     NYR: H. Lundqvist (W)        Event Summary

team-notes        EYE OF THE STORM – By earning a win in today’s game, the Rangers extended their home winning streak against the Hurricanes to 13 games (the streak dates back to Jan. 5, 2011). The Rangers’ 13-game home winning streak against Carolina is the longest home winning streak the Rangers have posted against one opponent in franchise history.

        BOUNCE BACK – Since Dec. 22, 2015, the Rangers have posted a 25-4-1 record in the game following a loss (regulation or overtime/shootout). New York has posted an 8-0-1 record in games following a loss in 2016-17. Continue reading

NEW YORK RANGERS PROSPECT REPORT: OCT. 17 – OCT. 23

Prospect Report

NEW YORK RANGERS PROSPECT REPORT: OCT. 17 – OCT. 23

BY: The New York Rangers

Three Stars of the week

1) Brad Morrison, C, Prince George Cougars (WHL) – Morrison notched a point in both of Prince George’s games last week, registering three points (two goals, one assist). He tallied an assist on Oct. 18 vs. Swift Current and recorded two goals, including the game-winning goal, on Oct. 22 vs. Saskatoon.

The Rangers’ fourth round pick (113th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft extended his point streak to three games (two goals, three assists over the span), and he has registered a point in 10 of 13 games this season. Morrison has recorded 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 13 games this season. He is tied for fourth in the WHL in points, is tied for fifth in the league in game-winning goals (three), and is tied for seventh in the league in assists in 2016-17.

2) Ty Ronning, RW, Vancouver Giants (WHL) – Ronning registered a point in each of Vancouver’s three games last week, tallying three points (one goal, two assists). The Rangers’ seventh round pick (201st overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft extended his point streak to five games (two goals, four assists over the span), and he has tallied a point in 10 of 12 WHL games this season. Ronning is tied for the team lead in assists (seven), is tied for second on the Giants in points (12) and plus/minus rating (plus-six), and ranks fourth in goals (five) this season.

3) Sergey Zborovskiy, D, Regina Pats (WHL) – Zborovskiy tallied an assist in each of the two games he played last week and posted a plus-five rating over the two contests. The Rangers’ third round pick (79th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has registered a point in eight of the nine games he has played this season (one goal, seven assists) and has posted a plus-17 rating. Zborovskiy ranks second in the WHL in plus/minus rating in 2016-17.

Emerging From The Pack

  • Marek Hrivik registered a point in both of Hartford’s games last weekend, recording one goal and one assist. Hrivik has tallied a point in each of Hartford’s first four games in 2016-17, recording four points (two goals, two assists). He leads the Wolf Pack in points, and he is tied for the team lead in goals, assists, and plus/minus rating (plus-three) thus far this season. 
  • Nicklas Jensen tallied the game-winning goal in overtime on Oct. 22 at Lehigh Valley. Jensen has recorded a point in three of Hartford’s first four games this season, registering three points (two goals, one assist). 
  • John Gilmour registered a goal in the Wolf Pack’s win against Lehigh Valley on Oct. 22. Gilmour leads Hartford defensemen in goals (two) and points (three) in 2016-17, and he is also tied for first on the team in goals thus far this season.

Quick Hits

  • Daniel Bernhardt, RW, VIK Västerås HK (Allsvenskan) – Bernhardt registered his first goal/point with VIK Västerås HK while skating in his second game with the team on Oct. 21 against Södertälje SK.
  • Sean Day, D, Windsor Spitfires (OHL) – After being traded to Windsor by Mississauga last week, Day registered a goal and was selected as the game’s First Star in his debut with the Spitfires on Oct. 20 vs. Kingston. The Rangers’ third round pick (81st overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft tallied a point in five consecutive games in which he played, registering six points (four goals, two assists) in those contests.
  • Gabriel Fontaine, C, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL) – Fontaine recorded three points (one goal, two assists) in three games last week. The Rangers’ sixth round pick (171st overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft tallied a point in each of his first four QMJHL games this season (four goals, two assists). Fontaine notched two assists, including one on the game-winning goal, and posted a plus-two rating on Oct. 21 at Halifax.
  • Tim Gettinger, LW, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) – Gettinger tallied two points (one goal, one assist), tied for the game-high with five shots on goal, and was selected as the game’s Second Star in the Greyhounds’ 4-3 win against Ottawa on Oct. 22. The Rangers’ fifth-round pick (141st overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft has registered six points (three goals, three assists) in 11 games with the Greyhounds this season, including three points (two goals, one assist) in the last four contests.
  • Brandon Halverson, G, Greenville Swamp Rabbits (ECHL) – Halverson earned his first career ECHL/professional win/shutout on Oct. 19 at Norfolk, stopping all 27 shots he faced. In three appearances with the Swamp Rabbits this season, the Rangers’ second-round pick (59th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has posted a 2-1-0 record, along with a 1.97 GAA, a .929 SV%, and 1 SO.
  • Tyler Wall, G, UMass-Lowell (NCAA) – Wall earned his third consecutive win on Oct. 21 vs. St. Lawrence. In five games this season, the Rangers’ sixth round pick (174th overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft has posted a 3-1-1 record, along with a 1.91 GAA, a .927 SV%, and 1 SO.

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“He is a big, powerful, smooth-skating defenseman who can cover the ice at an elite pace and play in all situations. He is just scratching the surface of his offensive and defensive skill set.” – Gordie Clark, Rangers Director of Player Personnel, on Sean Day 

“The object is to not spend time in your end and this guy’s a puck mover, a big, strong skater and he’s going to fit nicely into our top four (defensemen). … He’s a talent too good to pass on even if he’s not yet reached his true potential and one that could be a difference maker for a team challenging for a Memorial Cup title.” – Warren Rychel, Windsor Spitfires General Manager, on Sean Day (Credit: Windsor Star)

CANTLON’S CORNER: HOCKEY SEASON IS ALMOST UPON US

gerry-150x130BY: Gerard Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CTTraining camps have opened across North America and that means there are still some last minute signings and movement as the 2016-2017 season prepares to get underway.

ON THE MOVE

Right-wing on last season’s Hartford Wolf Pack roster, Shawn O’Donnell, has signed a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL). O’Donnell, who made the Wolf Pack as a walk-on three years ago, was a healthy scratch for more than half last season. He will be in the Milwaukee Admiral’s training camp.

Luke Adam, now a six-year pro, is at the Calgary Flames’ training camp on a PTO try-out deal. Matt Lindblad has retired. Lindblad had a back injury and the surgery to repair it caused him to miss most of this past season. He cut short his comeback after just eight games. Lindblad is now a pro scout for the Boston Bruins after just three seasons of pro hockey.

17 players from last season’s Wolf Pack roster who played at least ten or more games (two others didn’t) have signed elsewhere for this season.

One-time Bridgeport Sound Tiger Ryan Strome has signed a two-year contract extension with the New York Islanders with a payout of $2 million this year and $3 million next year.

On September 16th, former New Haven Senator John Ferguson Jr. was named the GM for the Providence Bruins. Ferguson has handled those duties for two other AHL franchises in his career, the St. John’s Maple Leafs and Worcester Sharks. He also is the Director of Player Development for the parent Boston Bruins where he handles their pro and amateur scouting.

CRABB RETIRES

Former Wolf Pack Joey Crabb has hung up his skates. The native Alaskan becomes the 67th former player to make the move to the coaching ranks. He will be a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Alaska-Anchorage (WCHA) this coming season.

Crabb’s tenure could be a short one. The Alaska state legislature is facing a serious economic downturn in the nation’s 49th state. It’s Board of Regents will decide in November, as a part of their overall budget review, whether one or both of it’s state college varsity programs at Anchorage and its conference rival, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, will get the axe.

He could become the school’s second full-time assistant coach as Josh Ciocco, the team’s assistant the last four years, left last week for a job at Brown University.

Crabb is the fifth ex-Hartford player this off-season to retire and move into coaching. The others are Chris McKelvie, who joins his twin brother Zach at Army (AHC), Jason LaBarbera, Calgary (WHL), Manny Malhotra, Vancouver (NHL) and Jeff Woywitka, Sherwood Park (AJHL).

MORE COLLEGE PLAYERS SIGN PRO DEALS

Another four college players have signed pro deals starting with University of Vermont grad Alexx Privitera who signed with the Manchester Monarchs,(ECHL). Dennis Kravchenko moves from UMASS-Amherst (HE) and signed with Calgary/Stockton (AHL). The Idaho Steelheads (ECHL) picked up Ryan Keller (Michigan State, Big 10) and Jarrett Fennell (Northeastern HE).

The signings of Privitera, Kravchenko, Keller and Fennell raises the number of players who have inked North American pro hockey deals after the collegiate regular season ended in March to 206.

Phil Esposito Jr. of East Haven and a former New Haven Knight (UHL) who stepped down as head coach of Danbury Titans (FHL), has signed to become the head coach of the expansion Watertown (NY) Wolves (FHL).

Former Wolf Pack/CT Whale Jared Nightingale signs for another year to be the captain of Toledo Walleye (ECHL). When he hangs up the blades, he likely to become an assistant coach somewhere.

Dean Yakura, who played in Danbury last season, has signed a one-year deal with Manchester (ECHL). Joining him in the Queen City is former Gunnery Prep player Craig Wyszomirski.

Drew MacKenzie (New Canaan/Taft Prep) has switched from Dornbirner EC (Austria-AEHL) to EC Kassel (Germany DEL-2) this year.

Pat Mullane (Wallingford/Avon Old Farms) moves from Assat Pori (Finland-FEL) to HC Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic-CEL) this year.

Tomas Kaberle, who played two games for the Wolf Pack in 2014-15, announced his retirement after playing last year in his native Czech Republic for HC Brno Comets. He will be living in Toronto where he will get involved in coaching somewhere down the line.

FORMER WHALER PASSES AWAY

Our prayers and thoughts are extended to the family of one-time Hartford Whaler, Richie Dunn, who passed away suddenly at age 59 in the Buffalo area late this week.

Dunn played 76 games with the Whalers from 1983-1985 covering a season-and-a-half. He played a total of 483 NHL games mostly with the Buffalo Sabres and one season in Calgary with the Flames.

Dunn had a stellar AHL career with the Rochester Americans and is an inductee in the American’s Hall of Fame. He was named an AHL first-team All-Star twice and was on the second team once. He won a Calder Cup title with the Americans in 1986-’87 playing a majority of his 428 AHL games there. He won the best defenseman award (Eddie Shore Trophy) with the Binghamton Whalers in 1984-85 and played two seasons with the Hershey Bears.

A Boston-born player played Canadian junior hockey in the OHL in the mid-1970’s for Kingston and Windsor a rarity in that era as few Americans dared to head North and play there.

ANOTHER LEGEND PASSES AWAY

The sport of US hockey lost a legend, Walter Bush. He was a pioneer and it’s not an understatement to call him a true hockey lion. Bush was 86 and just three days shy of his 87th birthday.

His name is all over the US blueprint for the development of the game in the US from the gold medal winning Squaw Valley team in 1960 to the 1980 Miracle on Ice team. Bush worked hard to promote women’s hockey to become an Olympic sport in the mid-1990’s. Bush helped craft a US model for hockey development similar to what had been done in Canada. His efforts were instrumental in the growth of youth hockey and helped lead the junior national team in becoming a force and able to compete internationally. He helped start the Minnesota North Stars (nee Dallas Stars) and owned a portion of the AHL Kentucky Thoroughblades.

He served with US hockey and its antecedent the AHA  (American Hockey Association) since 1959 and served on the Olympic and IIHF boards as well.

TRAVERSE CITY TOURNEY WRAPUP

It was the Jimmy Vesey show in Michigan.

Vesey registered five goals and two assists for seven points in the tournament. Vesey led the tournament in goals (five) and shots on goal (20), and he tied for first among all skaters in the tournament in points (seven).

Vesey’s five goals were tied for the most any player has registered in one year during the Traverse City Tournament since 2007. Vesey’s seven points were tied for the most any Ranger has posted in one year in the Traverse City Tournament. He notched a point in each of the tournament’s four games. Also, he posted a multi-point game in each of the final three contests, including a multi-goal game in each of the final two contests.

Vesey recorded the game-winning goal in the Rangers’ 5-4 shootout win over the Dallas Stars on September 17, and he tallied the game-winning goal in the final minute of the Rangers 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on September 19.

It’s a safe bet that Vesey won’t be in the Pack’s opening night lineup against St. John’s.

Malte Stromwall tied for second on the Rangers in goals (two), points (three), and shots on goal (eight) in the tournament. Stromwall, who was signed by the Rangers as a free agent on April 17, 2016, registered two goals in the Rangers’ 5-4 win against the Stars on September 17.

Robin Kovacs, who was Stromwall’s linemate in Sweden last season, was tied for second on the Rangers in goals (two) and shots on goal (eight) in the tournament. The 19-year-old, who was selected by the Rangers in the third round (62nd overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, tallied a goal in each of the Rangers first two games of the tournament.

Cristoval Nieves tied for second on the Rangers in assists (two) and points (three) in the Traverse City Tournament. Nieves, who served as the Rangers’ captain in the tournament, notched the game-tying goal with less than one minute remaining in regulation to help the Rangers defeat the Stars on September 17, and he tallied an assist on both of New York’s goals in the team’s 2-1 win against Minnesota on September 19.

John Gilmour led the Rangers – and tied for fifth among all skaters in the tournament – in assists (three), and he tied for second on the team in points (three). Gilmour, who was signed by the Rangers as a free agent on August 18, 2016, tied for second among all defensemen in the tournament in assists and points.

Sean Day tied for first among all defensemen in the tournament in goals (two) and tied for second among all defensemen in the tournament in points (three). The 18-year-old, who was selected by the Rangers in the third round (81st overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, recorded two goals on September 20 against Columbus.

The Rangers kick off training camp this weekend here is the training camp roster.

*Portions of a Rangers press release was used in this segment 

 

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK SEASON COMING UP SOON

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

Hartford, CTFor Hartford Wolf Pack fans, the excitement is beginning to rise as the season is getting closer by the day.

WOLF PACK SIGNING

The Pack made another signing mid-week inking forward Matt Carey to a contract for the ’16 – ‘17 season.

Carey led the Quad City Mallards (ECHL) with 25 goals and 47 points in 49 games. He also spent 21 games with the Iowa Wild (AHL) garnering two goals and four points for what turned out to be the AHL’s worst team last season.

He played with the Rockford IceHogs the previous season and left St. Lawrence (ECACHL) after just one college season where he compiled 37 points in 38 games. Carey scored his first NHL goal in his second game with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Carey is a 6’0, 190lb. winger who played Junior A hockey in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario (OJHL). He is also the younger brother of Greg Carey, who played with the Springfield Falcons last season. The elder Carey has signed to play with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for this coming season.

The New York Rangers formally announced the signing of BU forward and defenseman, Ahti Oksanen, to an AHL deal. Cantlon’s Corner reported this signing back in June.

ON THE MOVE

Former Pack forward Nick Tarnasky has signed with the San Diego Gulls. Tarnasky moves into the slot vacated by Brian McGrattan, who signed with Nottingham (England-EIHL). Former Wolf Pack and Ranger, Stu Bickel, and former Yale player, Antoine Langaniere, re-signed with San Diego for another year.

Tarnasky represents the 12th player from last season’s Hartford roster to sign elsewhere. Just five players from that team have yet to be signed. They are Shawn O’Donnell, Tyler Brown, Chris McCarthy, Matt Lindblad and Brian Gibbons.

Joining McGrattan in heading to Europe is forward Matt Fraser who split last season between Rockford and the Manitoba Moose. Fraser is going to Rogle BK (Sweden-SHL) while goalie Joni Ortio, who played with the Stockton Thunder and had some time with the Calgary Flames, heads to Skelelftea AIK (Sweden-SHL).

The list of AHL to Euro players is up to 78. Now 28 of the 30 AHL teams have seen at least one player head overseas. To this point, only the Grand Rapids Griffins and the Ontario Reign have not seen any roster players head across the pond.

The new Laval team, scheduled to launch in the AHL next fall when the Montreal Canadiens move their farm team there from St. John’s in the soon to be completed, Place Bell Centre, now has a name. 51 percent of those responding to the, “Name The Team” contest selected, “Rocket” over Patriotes and Rapides (French spelling). The name of course, honors Montreal Canadians great, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard, who was the first player to score 50 goals in 50 games in NHL history.

The team name “Rocket” has been used once before when it was the name of a QMJHL franchise that played out of the Maurice Richard Arena (which is now used for speed and figure skating) and the Bell Centre from 1999-2003. The team was sold and moved to Charlottetown, PEI and retained the name, Rocket, until last year when the team was renamed, “The Charlottetown Islanders.”

Former Wolf Pack Vinny Saponari, who played most of the last year with the Pack’s ECHL affiliate, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, and who had three AHL recalls for a total of 18 games, was released in training camp by KHL Dynamo Riga, but has signed with Frisk Asker (Norway-NEL).

Samuel Noreau, an ex-Pack who played for three ECHL teams last season including Greenville, was cut loose by the Rangers and signed with the Missouri Mavericks (ECHL).

Former Bridgeport Sound Tiger, Lukas Sutter, the son of Rich Sutter from the NHL’s legendary Sutter clan, after a sitting out a year playing senior hockey with the Prairie Outlaw of the Fort Carlton Senior Hockey League (FCHL), suits up in Canadian collegiate hockey with the University of Sasketchewan Huskies (CWUAA) this season.

MANNY CALLS IT A CAREER

Ex-Pack and Ranger, Manny Malhotra, is now officially retired. Incredibly, Malhotra played in 991 NHL games tallying 295 points. Malhotra was a number one pick for the Rangers, 7th overall in 1998. It seems like just yesterday that he was at Wolf Pack practice when it was held at Avon Old Farms Jennings-Fairchild Arena.

Malhotra never became the type of player the Rangers hoped he would be. He was an example of drafting a talented player and heaping unrealistic expectations and projections on his skill set and assets. It was also an example of too much over-handling in a player’s development. He was really a solid second round pick, but his leadership skills remained intact throughout his playing career and was a mentor to the younger players the past few years.

He never became the big scorer the Rangers envisioned he would be. Under the Ranger GM at the time, Neil Smith, the organization could never make up its mind about him and that caused many problems.

At the end of training camp in 2000, Malhotra was told he was being switched from a center, where had played all camp, to left wing – With no notice! Malhotra was genuinely peeved.

Malhotra would evolve into one of the best checking and best faceoff centers in the NHL, let alone in New York. He led the NHL in face-off percentage in 2009-10 with a 61.4% ratio while with the Vancouver Canucks and despite suffering a near career-ending injury, he played in the Stanley Cup final for a Canucks team that went on to lose to the Boston Bruins in seven.

His eventual departure from Vancouver didn’t go well either. He still played in the NHL with both the Carolina Hurricanes and the Columbus Blue Jackets and ended his career playing for the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) last season before being released on March 1st. He didn’t get to play for the eventual Calder Cup champions. Malhotra played in 71 AHL games in his career and scored 10 goals and 23 points overall.

He won his only championship in 2000 as a member of the Calder Cup Champion Wolf Pack. Malhotra played in all 23 playoff games that year but in his career only played 40 regular season games with the Pack. He registered 17 points on six goals and 11 assists. Malhotra also won a bronze medal with Team Canada that same year at the World Junior Championships.

Malhotra junior career was in Guelph (OHL) where he went to the Memorial Cup final in 1998, but he and his teammates failed to win a title. Despite that disappointment, Malhotra was named to the All-Tournament team with the likes of Marian Hossa and former Pack tough guy, Frankie Lessard.

After 206 games with the Rangers where he registered just 19 goals and 41 points, Malhotra was traded to Dallas along with ex-Pack Barrett Heitsten for Martin Rucinsky, and the late Roman Lyashenko.

While in juniors, Malhotra was selected number one and 17th overall by Guelph where he was coached by the Wolf Pack’s first head coach, the late E.J. McGuire during his first year. Malhotra was named the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year (Bobby Smith Award) in his second season.

Malhotra, who is of Pakistani descent, grew up in Toronto was one of the first Eurasian players to ever play in the NHL. A player following in Malhtora’s footsteps as a second generation player of sorts will skate for the Rangers this upcoming season. Mika Zibanejad is an Iranian-Swede who was born and raised in Sweden.

Malhotra was a consummate pro who was among the most thoughtful and truly articulate interviewees in the Wolf Pack’s twenty-year history.

He will make Vancouver his post-career home, but won’t be totally out of hockey. According to the Vancouver Province newspaper, Malhotra is expected to be taking a coaching position with the Canucks for the upcoming season.

If this happens, it’s possible that Malhotra would be used as a skill development coach this coming season and could be on the bench as an Assistant Coach in the 2017-18 season for the Canucks AHL affiliate in Vancouver.

OLYMPIC HOCKEY NOW SET

Norway, Slovenia, and Germany will fill out the last three Olympic spots for the 2018 Pyeongchang, South Korea Games as all three countries won the qualifying pools last weekend.

Group F saw Norway, paced by ex-Pack and current Ranger, Mats Zuccarello, beat France 2-1 in order to advance. Zuccarello, who was the top scorer for all players with five points, scored the equalizer just 5:10 after the French took the lead. They were the only host nation to win their pool.

The Germans knocked off the host Latvians 3-2 as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ Thomas Kuhnhackl scored a powerplay goal with 5:09 left in regulation to advance. The Germans, along with Norway, will be in Pool C at the Olympics.

Slovenia beat Belarus 3-2 winning Group D in penalty shot style.

Denmark, one of the tournament favorites to win Group D after a strong World Championship showing in April, didn’t win a game until their final one last Sunday placing third in the Group D pool.

Current Wolf Pack Nicklas Jensen paced a 5-2 win over Poland with three primary assists and four shots on goal. Ex-Sound Tiger Franz Nielsen had three assists for the Dames in the tournament.

Mike Cichy, the New Hartford, CT native, had one assist (primary) a backhand pass on a goal by Kamil Kalinowski for the Polish team.

DRURY NEW ASSISTANT GM

Trumbull, CT native Chris Drury has always been successful and has taken another step up the ladder in the Rangers organization. He’s done so with the same speed he had as a player coming out of Boston University.

Drury was named the team’s new assistant GM where he will gain one of the portfolios Jim Schoenfeld has held along with being the GM in Hartford. This could be a signaling of the changing of the guard in the Rangers’ organization that has been whispered about since Glen Sather stepped down as Rangers GM a year and a half ago.

Drury’s work with the young forwards of the Wolf Pack paid dividends last spring with the revitalized team having a strong second half. The team would fall short though of their goal of making the playoffs. Drury spent time with Nicklas Jensen, Marek Hrivik and the now departed Jayson Megna in developing their down low games.

Drury’s career highlights professionally are highly impressive. After being drafted in Hartford in 1993 by the Quebec Nordiques (nee Colorado Avalanche), he would shine in a 12-year NHL career. Drury skated in 892 games with the Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres, and the Rangers. He registered 255 goals and 360 assists for 615 points and added 468 penalty minutes. Drury captured the Stanley Cup as a member of the Avalanche in 2000-01 when he ranked second in the NHL with 11 goals in 23 games during that team’s playoff run.

In 1998-99, Drury received the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year after registering 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points with Colorado. Drury recorded at least 20 goals in nine different seasons in his career and recorded at least 50 points in eight different seasons.

In addition, Drury’s team reached the playoffs in nine of his 12 seasons in the NHL and advanced to the Conference Finals on six occasions. In 135 career NHL playoff games, Drury tallied 47 goals and 42 assists for 89 points, along with a plus-24 rating and 46 penalty minutes. Over his 12 NHL seasons (1998 – 2011), Drury led the league in playoff game-winning goals (17), ranked second in playoff overtime goals (four), ranked fourth in playoff goals, and ranked ninth in playoff games played.

Drury played four seasons with the Rangers (2007-2011) after signing with the team as a free agent on July 1, 2007. In addition, Drury served as the Rangers captain for three seasons (2008-09 – 2010-11) as the 25th captain in franchise history – as well as the second American-born captain in franchise history – on October 3, 2008. In 264 regular season games with the Blueshirts, Drury recorded 62 goals and 89 assists for 151 points, along with 116 penalty minutes. Over his first three seasons with the Rangers, Drury led the team in goals (61) and points (146), ranked second in assists (85), and tied for second in game-winning goals (10). In addition, the Rangers made the playoffs three times during Drury’s four seasons with the team.

Prior to joining the NHL, Drury completed one of the most impressive collegiate hockey careers in NCAA history.

Over four seasons at Boston University Terriers (1994-1998), Drury tallied 113 goals and 101 assists for 214 points in 155 games. During his collegiate career, the Terriers captured the National Championship in 1994-95, appeared in the National Championship Game twice (1994-95, 1996-97), and appeared in the Frozen Four three times (1994-95, 1995-96, 1996-97).

Drury was selected as a First Team All-American on two occasions (1996-97, 1997-98), a Hobey Baker Finalist as the Top Player in College Hockey on three occasions (1995-96, 1996-97, 1997-98), and he became the first Terrier to receive the Hobey Baker Award in 1997-98. Drury is Boston University’s all-time leader in goals and ranks third on the school’s all-time points list.

Internationally, Drury represented the United States in numerous tournaments and earned several medals. He participated in three consecutive Winter Olympics (2002, 2006, 2010), capturing a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. Drury was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.

Drury started his illustrious career at Fairfield Prep High school in Fairfield winning a state title his sophomore year beating an unbeaten and untied Hamden team 3-1 at the Hartford Civic Center (nee XL Center) and appeared in one other final against Greenwich which they lost. His number 18 which he and his older brother Ted, an ex-Hartford Whaler wore, is retired and a banner hangs to honor him in the corner of the Jesuits home rink, Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport.

A second generation Drury is following in their footsteps in his nephew Jack Drury’s (Ted’s oldest son) who’s playing this season for Waterloo (USHL) and is an early college commit to Ted’s alma mater, Harvard University.

*Portions of a Rangers press release was used in this segment

 

CANTLON: HOCKEY SEASON’S GETTING CLOSE

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – The calendar turns to September, and while the weather outside is starting it’s seasonal change to cooling down,  for Hartford Wolf Pack and hockey fans in general, things are starting to heat up. 

WOLF PACK SIGNINGS

The New York Rangers got forward Phillip McRae to his signature on a one-year AHL contract.

Last year McRae played for the Bakersfield Condors (AHL) putting nine goals between the pipes and 15 points in the stat book while playing in 35 games.  The Condors play in the AHL Pacific Division, and they are top farm team of the Edmonton Oilers.

The St. Louis Blues drafted McRae in the second round 33rd overall in 2008.

McRae has some strong hockey bloodlines. His father Basil McRae was among the toughest competitors in his day. He compiled 2,454 PM in 576 games and is presently the GM and part franchise owner of the London Knights (OHL). The younger McRae’s uncle, Chris, played in the AHL in the mid-to-late 1980’s through the early 1990’s with Adirondack, Newmarket, and St. Catharine’s. He completed his career in Ft. Wayne (IHL), leading the league with 413 PM in 1991-’92.

His sister Abbey just completed a four-year, Division I career with St. Lawrence University (ECACHLW).

The Pack finally announced forward Michael Joly signed an AHL deal for one season. Cantlon’s Corner announced that signing over six weeks ago. Joly played most of his QMJHL career with the Rimouski Oceanic and before his middle of last season trade to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles where he played with Pierre-Luc Dubois. That’s the same Luc-Dubois who was the Columbus Blue Jackets first round pick, third overall, in this past summer’s draft.

The Rangers signed forward Brandon Pirri to a one-year $1.1 million deal giving the Blueshirts 48 of their 50 CBA allowable contract slots. They have salary commitments of $71.6M in salaries for the upcoming season. They have roughly $1.4 million of remaining cap space. It is almost a forgone conclusion that some preseason or early season deal would be forthcoming for the Rangers. They are tight on contracts, have little maneuverability regarding cap space and have 18 defenseman and six goalies in the organization.

TRAVERSE CITY TOURNAMENT RANGERS ROSTER ANNOUNCED

The Rangers announced their 2016 Traverse City Tournament roster is coming up in Traverse City, Michigan. The Rangers will be making their tenth consecutive appearance in the eight-team tournament, which is set to begin on Friday, September 16.

New York’s roster will feature 25 prospects (15 forwards, eight defensemen, and two goaltenders), including three of the team’s selections from the 2016 NHL Entry Draft: Sean Day, Tim Gettinger, and Ty Ronning. The roster also includes 2016 Hobey Baker Award winner Jimmy Vesey, who just signed with the Rangers as a free agent on August 19th. Russian forward prospect, Pavel Buchnevich, the organization’s highly regarded prospect will participate in the Tournament for the first time.

Several of the prospects on this year’s roster also represented the Rangers in the 2015 edition of the Tournament. Among those prospects are 2015 draft picks Ryan Gropp, Brad Morrison, and Sergey Zborovskiy. Also, 2015 draft pick Robin Kovacs from Sweden will also participate for the first time this year. Traverse City’s own, Brandon Halverson, did not appear in the 2015 tournament due to injury, but he’s healthy and one of two goaltenders on the Rangers’ roster this year. The Rangers selected twelve of the 25 participants in the NHL Entry Draft. The remaining list are kids on tryout contracts.

The Rangers are one of four teams that comprise the Ted Lindsay Division. Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, and Minnesota Wild are also in their division. The Blueshirts begin the tournament tangling with Carolina on Friday, September 16 at 4:00 p.m. New York will face Dallas on Saturday, September 17 at 3:30 p.m. and the Wild on Monday, September 19 at 3:00 p.m. Following their three round-robin games, the Rangers will have a placement game against a team from the Gordie Howe Division on Tuesday, September 20.

In the nine years that the Rangers have previously participated in the tournament, they have reached the Championship Game twice and won it in 2007. Current Blueshirts Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, Marc Staal, J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes, and Brady Skjei have all represented the team at the tournament in recent years.

Since the Rangers began participating in the Traverse City Tournament in 2006, in every year, at least one Rangers’ prospect who represented the team in the tournament, has also appeared in a game with the Blueshirts that same season.

*Portions of the Rangers press release were used in preparation of this segment

ON THE MOVE

Former Ranger and Yale University player, Chris Higgins, and former Bridgeport Sound Tiger, Raffi Torres, each signed an NHL training camp PTO contracts with Calgary and Carolina respectively.

Ex-Pack, and now twice an ex-Ranger, Dominic Moore, has signed a one-year, one-way deal with Boston for $900K.

Ex-Sound Tiger, Kevin Czuczman has signed an AHL deal with Manitoba.

Ex-Pack, Ryan Potulny goes from Lahti (Finland-FEL) to HK Hradec Kralove (Czech Republic-CEL) this year.

Ex-Pack, Devin Didiomete, is taking his stick and skates back to Italy and SHC Fassa playing in the brand new Alps Hockey League (AlpsHL).

Ex-Pack, Josh Nicholls, who played eleven games with Hartford last year, signed a one-year deal with Colorado (ECHL).

Another Wolf Pack alumni, Scott Tanski, who split last year with Orlando and Reading (ECHL) has signed a one-year deal with South Carolina. (ECHL).

Andreas Jamtin, the advertised Swedish version of Sean Avery, and who lasted in Hartford for fewer games than the North American version. Jamtim played in just ten games, five with Greenville, and five with the Pack. He leaves Medvescak Zagreb (Croatia-KHL) to return home and Farjestads BK (Sweden-SHL).

Here’s a blast from the past. CT Whale defenseman, Sean Collins, who has not played hockey in three years since last playing in Hartford during the 2012-13 season, has signed a tryout contract with the Beijing-based KHL team, Kunlun Red Star.

Ex-Sound Tiger, Mike Banwell, returns from Lillehammer IK (Norway-NEL) to become the playing assistant coach with Utah (ECHL).

Max Jones, the son of ex-New Haven Nighthawk, Brad Jones, has signed a standard NHL three-year, entry-level, two-way contract with Anaheim ($925K-NHL/$70K-AHL). He will play his last junior year this coming season with London (OHL).

Matt Hussey, who was born in New Haven and played at Avon Old Farms, signs with HE Rouen French Magnus Elite League.

Francis Drolet, who played at Salisbury Prep, stays in the French second Division going from Nantes AHG to HC Briancon.

Goalie Brendan Burke, son of ex-Hartford Whaler, Sean Burke, and who was on the Memorial Cup winning London Knights (OHL) and an Arizona Coyote draftee, is heading to Canadian university hockey and the University of Alberta Golden Bears (CWUAA) this year.

Returning to North America is ex-Sound Tiger, Juraj Kolnik, from Nottingham (England-EIHL) to Jonquiere (LNAH) the Quebec-based semi-pro hockey league.

The LNAH lost one team this week as the Cornwall River Kings closed shop a month before their regular season was set to begin. Former Wolf Pack tough guy, Francis Lessard, and South Kent Prep alumni, C.J. Chartrain, both played their last year.

Jared Bednar, who coached the Cleveland (nee Lake Erie) Monsters to the Calder Cup title was hired to succeed Patrick Roy in Colorado. One of his assistants held the same role in Cleveland under former Beast of New Haven and Hartford Whaler, Nolan Pratt.

Patrick Bordeleau, who played in San Antonio last year, has signed with Cardiff (Wales-EIHL). Jerome Leduc, who split last season with Rochester and Binghamton, signed with HC Pardubice (Czech Republic-CEL). Blair Jones, who ended the year in Charlotte after a trade from Utica at the trade deadline, signs with Iserlohn (Germany-DEL). David Wohlberg of Charlotte goes to EHC Bayreuth (Germany DEL-2).

Trevor Parkes of San Jose goes to Augsburger (Germany-DEL) while also heading to Deutschland is Jeremy Welsh, who goes from the Chicago Wolves to the Fischtown Penguins.

This latest batch of talent leaving the AHL for Europe sees the list go up to 75. Now 27 out of the 30 AHL teams have lost at least one player to Europe during this off-season.

Last week, Edmonton announced that it signed defenseman Matt Benning to a two-year, two-way contract ($925K-NHL/$70K-AHL). Benning becomes the 40th Hockey East player to sign a pro deal. Benning leaves Northeastern after his junior season and is the 42nd underclassmen to bolt early from the collegiate ranks nationally.

Benning has some serious hockey DNA flowing through him. His father, Brian Benning, played 568 NHL games and had 276 points with LA, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Edmonton and Florida. His uncle, Jim Benning, was a first round, sixth overall selection by Toronto in 1981 and played 610 NHL games with 243 points with the Maple Leafs and Vancouver. He is presently the GM of the Canucks.

His grandfather Elmer has been a scout with Montreal since 2000, and his cousin Brandon is a scout with Vancouver.

Jon Jutsi, who played six games with Manitoba at the end of last year after finishing up with Minnesota-Mankato (NCHC), has signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Alex Gacek of Miami (OH) and Nicholas Bligh of Dartmouth signed deals with South Carolina (ECHL) meanwhile Coltyn Anderson becomes the latest from North Dakota (NCHC), the defending national champion, signs with Orlando (ECHL), Trevot Jeke of Boston College signs with South Carolina (ECHL) and Collin MacDonald of New Hampshire signs with Toledo (ECHL)..

The latest is UCONN Husky Shaun Pauly like Sanderson, who graduated, inked a deal with Missouri (ECHL).

Now 200 NCAA players have signed North American pro deals since the end of the college hockey season.

KIWI HOCKEY CHAMPS

Former Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack and Berlin native Adam Blanchette guided the Sky Sports Southern Stampede (Queenstown) to their second consecutive Birgel Cup in the short-season New Zealand Ice Hockey League (NZIHL) finals sweeping the best of three finals in two games.

Before a rowdy home crowd, they overcame a sluggish first period down 1-0 by scoring seven consecutive goals en route to a 7-1 championship victory over the Canterbury Red Devils.

Leading the way was three Canadians with two from the Canadian college ranks, Matt Schneider (defenseman) and Adrian Volpe (goalie) plus Jade Portwood (US college).

It was the team fourth overall title in league history for the league which started in 2005. Canterbury also has four titles. The runner-ups featured former Danbury Whaler (FHL) Matt Puntereri who scored a goal in Game 1 a 6-2 loss in Christchurch.

AUSTRALIAN ICE HOCKEY TITLE STAYS WITH NEWCASTLE

The Newcastle North Stars led by captain Rob Malloy of Cheshire and a Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack alumni like Blanchette captured their second consecutive Goodall Cup title 2-1 over the CBR (Canberra) Brave in the Grand Final game in Melbourne at the O’Brien Group Arena.The title is the North Stars sixth title tops in AIHL history since the league began 16 years ago and had to work against his former teammate of a year ago Geordie Wudrick.

“It’s never easy to repeat because the target on our back was huge. This team had a ton of character. We had guys that played specific roles that they took pride in. The imports we brought out had the ability to take control of games and step up when it really mattered. I think continuously being compared with Geordie helped the imports step up because they had something to prove.Geordie is a hell of a hockey player and a great guy, but on the ice, there is no love lost. He left a huge void for us to fill, but the boys simply saw it as an opportunity,” said Malloy via e-mail.

The North Stars advanced by the downing the Perth Thunder in dramatic fashion 3-2 in overtime in the semi-finals to get into the title game.

“This one was different because we came into the playoffs as an underdog. The two other times we were regular season champs, and we were the team to beat. I saw this as an opportunity to leave a legacy as well. We don’t know of anybody else in the history of the league to captain two different teams to a Cup!” commented Malloy.

Canberra who finished 15 points behind the Melbourne Ice knocked off the league’s best team in the other semi-final also in OT 4-3 in their barn.

The Braves playing head coach is ex-Sound Tiger Artem (Art) Bidlevski.

For Malloy this is his third title in four years and caps a big six months of hockey for Malloy having been a part of the Australian national team that won the gold medal at the IIHF Division II tournament in Mexico City and moved the national program up a level in late March just before the AIHL regular season began.

“It’s funny how there has been a resurgence in my hockey career, after college, I thought my career was over. I guess my wife is the one responsible. Out here I get the best of both worlds, I have a full-time job to support my family, and I can still follow my dream. I’ll take a few months away from hockey and spend time with my family. Coming off of training for the world championship, then the tournament itself, and jumping right into our season – it definitely takes a toll. I’ll recharge the batteries, nurse a few injuries and work on my golf game !!

I’ll eventually get the itch to get back on the ice soon. Our world championships are in Romania next year, so that is next on the horizon, then we defend our title,” Malloy remarked.

Malloy and the North Stars are the Kings of Australian hockey and keep making history every season.

LATVIA GETS NEW NATIONAL TEAM COACH

Just days before the team’s pre-tournament camp and a week before they host the Group E IIHF Olympic qualifying tournament in Riga, the Latvians have a new national team coach who the Latvian hockey family is familiar with.

Harolds Vailjves, 64 last coached the team 15 years ago when the national team made it to Salt Lake City and the 2002 Olympic Games for the first time since the end of the Soviet Union.

Vasiljves is the father of former Beast of New Haven forward Herberts Vasiljves. Ironically, he is one of the 30 players in camp as he is likely looking at his last opportunity at 39 to represent the hockey loving the Baltic nation. The younger Vasiljves resides and still plays pro hockey for the Krefeld Penguins in the DEL league, pool  alsobut wasn’t selected for the team

The elder Vasiljves coaches in the Latvian national league for Zemgale. He replaces Leonids Beresnews who resigned for unspecified personal reasons. He was a big star in his playing days for Dynamo Riga then under Soviet/Russian occupation in the Soviet league.

All three pools will play from September 1-4.

The pool also features Germany, Austria and Japan and Latvia.

Latvia beat Japan 3-1 despite a strong effort in net from Japanese netminder Yukata Fukufuji who won his first AHL game against Hartford years ago and Germany shutout Austria 6-0.

In Group F opening action Kazakhstan beat Norway 4-3 in OT.

Former AHL All-Star Brandon Bochenski in a three-on-three format scored 29 seconds into the extra session on a setup from ex-Wolf Pack Nigel Dawes and another AHL Star who had success in the KHL Kevin Dallman.

Norway trailed 3-1 with former Wolf Pack/CT Whale Mats Zuccarello scoring a goal and assist and set up the game-tying goal with 16 seconds left in regulation.

In other game, France won in overtime 2-1 as former AHL’er Stephand DaCosta scored 23 seconds into the extra frame setup by current Philadelphia Flyer Pierre-Edouard Bellamare.

The French then knocked off Kazakhstan 4-1 despite Dawes scoring seconds into the game. Damien Fleury scored twice for the French team.

Norway beat Italy 4-1 to stay in the hunt as Patrick Thoresen an ex-Springfield Falcon had two assists for the Norwegian team that is being coached by his father, Petter.

In Group D Slovenia downed Poland 6-1 who feature New Hartford, CT native Mike Cichy on defense for the Poles. Belarus knocked off Denmark 5-2 despite current Wolf Pack Nicklas Jensen scoring the game’s first goal at 2:46 and had four shots on goal for the game.

The Danes got shutout 3-0 in their second game by Slovenia and Kazakhstan down 2-0 won 5-2 over Poland in the second game played.

The winners of the three pools gets the last three spots for 2018 Pyongncheong, South Korea Olympic Games.

CRAWFORD: WOLF PACK SIGN FORWARD MICHAEL JOLY

joueur-de-la-semaine-joly-michael-oceanic-001-620x348WOLF PACK SIGN FORWARD MICHAEL JOLY

*           *           *           *

Tied for second in QMJHL in Goals in 2015-16 

BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack

HARTFORD, August 26, 2016:  Hartford Wolf Pack general manager Jim Schoenfeld announced today that the Wolf Pack has signed forward Michael Joly to an AHL contract.

Joly, 21, comes to the Wolf Pack after a four-season career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).  He split the 2015-16 season between the Rimouski Oceanic and the Cape Breton Eagles, totaling 47 goals and 41 assists  for 88 points, along with a +29 and 38 penalty minutes.  His 47 goals were good for a tie for second in the QMJHL.  Joly also added 11 goals and 5 assists for 16 points in 13 playoff games with Cape Breton, leading the team in points and goals.

A 5-11, 172-pound native of Gatineau, Quebec, Joly helped lead the Oceanic to a QMJHL playoff title and an appearance in the Memorial Cup in 2014-15.  That season he struck for 26-19-45 in 45 regular season games and tallied 21 points (12-9-21) in 20 QMJHL postseason outings, plus a team-leading six points and four assists in four Memorial Cup contests.

In 219 career QMJHL games with the Oceanic and Screaming Eagles, Joly amassed totals of 128 goals and 108 assists for 236 points, along with 138 PIM.CaptureThe Wolf Pack’s twentieth-anniversary 2016-17 season begins Friday, October 14 at the XL Center with the Wolf Pack’s home opener, a 7:15 PM contest vs. the St. John’s IceCaps.  A special discount package is available for the home opener, including one Red-level ticket to the October 14 game, as well as one complimentary Red-level ticket to an October, November or December Wolf Pack home game of the purchaser’s choice.  Plus, every package purchased will feature a $5 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card.  The Opening Night package is priced at $30, and will is available for purchase through September 7.  The special package is available only through the Wolf Pack’s official website, hartfordwolfpack.com.

Wolf Pack 2016-17 single-game tickets will go on sale Tuesday, September 13 at 12:00 noon, at the Agera Energy Ticket Office at the XL Center, on-line at hartfordwolfpack.com and by phone at (877) 522-8499.

Season ticket information for the Wolf Pack’s 2016-17 AHL season can be found on-line at hartfordwolfpack.com.  To speak with a representative about all of the Wolf Pack’s many attractive ticketing options, call (855) 762-6451.

CANTLON’S CORNER: OFF-SEASON WEEK 17 SEES NEW YORK RANGERS PUT ON THEIR “VESEY” BEST

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – We’re getting closer and closer to the return of hockey to Hartford, but the New York Rangers made their most important free agent signing this week.

VESEY SIGNS WITH THE RANGERS

The Rangers landed the top collegiate free agent in the nation.

The list of suitors for 23-year old, Jimmy Vesey’s services included the New York Islanders, the New Jersey Devils, the Boston Bruins, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Buffalo Sabres, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Stanley Cup champion, Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago. Surprisingly, the Detroit Red Wings were not in the mix.

Reports stated that the Islanders captain, John Tavares, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, all reportedly personally contacted Vesey and made their pitch.

Capture

Vesey had 46 points (24 goals, 22 assists) in 33 games as a senior at Harvard University last season where he won the 2016 Hobey Baker Award, given to the top NCAA player.

Vesey had been a third-round pick (No. 66) of the Nashville Predators at the 2012 NHL Draft, and the Predators hoped to sign him after his season at Harvard ended in March, offering Vesey a spot among their top six forwards heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Nashville traded Vesey’s rights to the Buffalo Sabres for a third-round pick in the 2016 draft on June 20. The Sabres had exclusive negotiating rights with Vesey until Tuesday when he became an unrestricted free agent.

Vesey, considered to be an NHL-ready player, had had 144 points (80 goals, 64 assists) in 128 games in four seasons at Harvard. He also had three assists in nine games to help the United States win the bronze medal at the 2015 IIHF World Championship.

RANGERS SIGNING

The Rangers added their 18th defenseman to the organization’s depth chart when they signed, the 6-0, 190-pound, John Gilmour to a free agent deal out of Providence College. The deal is a two-year, two-way ($742,500K-NHL/$70K-AHL) deal. The Rangers now have 47 of the 50 contracted players they are allowed under the CBA. The team’s total salary stands at $70.5 million, and they have just about $2.5M cap space remaining.

Gilmour was a Calgary Flames seventh round draft pick in 2014, but the Flames, with an abundance of defenseman, chose not to offer him a contract, despite having a good shot, hits well and played on the Friars NCAA championship squad two years ago and completed all four seasons.

Gilmour, 23, skated in 34 games with Providence College this past season, where he registered nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points, along with a plus-three rating, his best numbers as a Friar along with 18 penalty minutes for the Hockey East school. Gilmour uses his stick well and ranks fifth among NCAA defensemen in power play points (16), and is tied for fifth among NCAA defensemen in power play assists (12), and tied for eighth among NCAA defensemen in goals and power play goals (four) during his senior season.
Also, Gilmour recorded 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) against Hockey East opponents in 2015-16, helping Providence post a 16-3-3 record in intra-conference games.

He skated in 141 career collegiate games over four seasons where he compiled 22 goals and 43 assists for 65 points, along with a plus-eight rating and 85 penalty minutes. In his four years, Providence posted a record of 81-42-18 in the games in which Gilmour played. He maintained a plus/minus rating of even or better in each of his four seasons with Providence.

*Contract numbers and cap numbers come from www.generalfanager.com

WOLF PACK AND AHL SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED

Finally, the summer soap opera of the AHL schedule release has ended as the league posted its 2016-17 season Monday afternoon.

The Wolf Pack open their 20th anniversary season at home on Saturday, October 14th against the St. John’s IceCaps for the second season in a row. This is the last season in the AHL for St. John’s as the Montreal Canadiens will move their farm team to Laval, Quebec next season where they will play at the brand new Place Bell Centre.

The Wolf Pack schedule features five dates in October with the team’s second game also against St. John’s. The IceCaps start their season with six road games while the Pack play just two.

The Pack’s traditional early season school day game is against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on November 2nd at 11:00am.

The Pack will play just 14 of the 30 AHL teams with 52 games in the Atlantic Division. Springfield and Providence will play the Pack the most with ten games apiece. The pack will face the other four teams, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Bridgeport eight times each.

The other 24 games of their 76 games will be against the North Division who’ll likely make a difference because of the crossover playoff system. The team found out last season just how important those games were when they missed out on the playoffs by six points. They will play all of the teams four times each except Syracuse who they play just twice.

Twelve home games are on Fridays with a new starting time of 7:15 pm to accommodate for the traffic issues on I-91 and I-84.

The Pack home portion of the season concludes on Saturday, April 8th against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and the last four games of the season will be on the road in Bridgeport, Albany, Utica and will close out the season in Springfield on Saturday, April 15.

Find the Wolf Pack schedule HERE.

Find the complete AHL team-by-team schedule HERE

Note to the AHL-we all realize we have a bifurcated league now.

The AHL should release the Eastern conference schedule in July since there are no NBA building conflicts that they’re playing in and then release the Western conference schedule in August after Cleveland and San Antonio get their NBA schedules for their buildings.

Waiting like this is not good for the fans, horrendous for each team’s sales staff and doesn’t help with the league’s image.

PRE-SEASON SCHEDULE

The Wolf Pack will have a slate of three preseason games, of which two of them are home contests as they prepare for the 2016-17 season.

On Wednesday, October 5, the Wolf Pack host their in-state and divisional rivals, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The game takes place at Trinity College’s Koeppel Community Sports Center and starts at 7 pm. Donations will be accepted at the door instead of an admission charge. That money will benefit the Ryan Gordon / Hartford Wolf Pack Community Scholar’s Fund.

The fund memorializes young fan Ryan Gordon, who passed away in 2006 and asked that a portion of the monies set aside for his college education be donated to the Hartford Wolf Pack Community Foundation. Suggested donation is $5 per person.

The Koeppel Community Sports Center is located at 175 New Britain Ave. in Hartford.

The Wolf Pack’s lone road preseason outing will be a trip to the MassMutual Center in Springfield for their first meeting with the newly minted Springfield Thunderbirds who this year are the affiliates of the Florida Panthers. That game takes place on Saturday, October 8, at 7:00 pm.

The Pack concludes their preseason action with a home game on Sunday, October 9 at Champion’s Skating Center in Cromwell, CT, which is also their practice facility during the season. The game is a 1:00 pm battle with the Albany Devils, with a $5 admission charge benefitting Whalers Youth Hockey. Champions Skating Center is located at 6 Progress Drive in Cromwell Exit 21 off I-91.

HARTFORD WOLF PACK PRESEASON SCHEDULE

Date                 Opponent             Venue Faceoff
Wed. Oct. 5   BRIDGEPORT   KOEPPEL COMMUNITY SPORTS CENTER,                                                                           TRINITY COLLEGE 7:00 pm

Sat. Oct. 8       at Springfield     MassMutual Center 7:00 pm

Sun. Oct. 9     ALBANY               CHAMPION’S SKATING CENTER, CROMWELL,                                                                  CT 1:00 pm

*Portions of the Wolf Pack press releases were used in the previous three segments.

ON THE MOVE

Joining Gilmour and Jimmy Vesey on the list of NCAA players who’ve signed their first pro contracts is Thomas DiPauli from Notre Dame, who inked a deal with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

That makes 192 players to have signed a North American pro contract including 41 underclassmen since the college regular season and post-season ended.

Several ex-players are getting into the coaching, scouting and management side of hockey.

Congrats to J.F. Labbe, the Wolf Pack Calder Cup winning goalie and AHL Hall of Famer. Labbe is going to be coaching goaltending for two teams in two different leagues this season that is probably a first in hockey.

He is set to begin his third year with the QMJHL Sherbrooke Phoenix, but he was named late last week as the Anaheim Ducks developmental goalie coach and will be in San Diego two weeks a month during the season working with their prospects with the AHL Gulls.

Ex-Pack Mike Mottau is the new scout with the Chicago Blackhawks. Jim Sandlak, the ex-Whaler, switches as a scout from Vancouver to Anaheim while Jim Mill, a Hartford native and former AHL VP, switches scouting from Minnesota to New Jersey.

Nolan Pratt, the former Beast of New Haven and Hartford Whaler, is the new assistant coach in Colorado. With Patrick Roy’s sudden exit, the Avalanche need a head coach. Pratt was a part of Lake Erie’s (nee Cleveland) Calder Cup winning squad.

Another Beast of New Haven alumni, Ryan Johnson, was promoted to Assistant Director of Player Development with Vancouver.

Former Whalers who were assistant coaches in Boston have new gigs. Doug Houda with Detroit and Doug Jarvis in Vancouver.

Former Pack goalie David LeNeveu is using his Ivy League education well as President and part of an ownership group that includes former NHL goalie Kelly Hrudey of the Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL).  The British Columbia Hockey League is one of the 10 Junior A leagues in Canada that US Division I colleges recruit heavily from.

LeNeveu and Dov-Grumet Morris helped rescue the Wolf Pack three seasons ago from finishing dead last and were probably the smartest goaltending duo in AHL history with a combined IQ of something like 5,000!

Jeff Woywitka, the former CT Whale defenseman, and a Ranger was named assistant coach for the Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)-Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Ex-Sound Tigers are starting out in the Junior B league level in Canada. Jean

Jean Bourbeau was named assistant coach with the Columbia Valley Rockets (KIJHL)-Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. The head coach and GM of the team are the one-time former Sound Tiger goalie star, Wade Dubliewicz.

Ruffian extraordinaire with Bridgeport Pascal Morency was named assistant coach with the Fernie Ghostriders (KIJHL).

Former Ranger and Nighthawk from the 1980’s, Raimo Heminen, has landed as an assistant coach with Jokert Helsinki (Finland-KHL). Last season Heminen was fired a month into the season along with the entire staff at Barys Astana (Kazakhstan-KHL) and then lasted just two months with Dynamo Riga (Latvia-KHL).

Alex Westlund, the former Wolf Pack, and Yale University goalie becomes the goalie coach with Medvescak Zagreb (Croatia-KHL). Last season he had the same position with Augusburger (Germany-DEL).

Jim Setters, a one-time Nighthawk, becomes the new head coach for the Lithuania National U-20 Team that competes in the IIHF Division II level in Group A with fellow Baltic state country Estonia, Croatia, the Netherlands, and Romania. He has been the head coach of Germany’s U-20 and U-20 teams over the past 20 years.

Next year’s AHL team in Laval, Quebec that will be the Canadiens top farm team has narrowed the team nicknames from twenty to three finalists. The names that fans will a have a choice to select are Patriotes, Rapids, and Rocket.

Ex-Pack Conor Allen, who played with three teams last season starting in Milwaukee as an assistant captain, before being traded to Binghamton, had a very rough year.  At the trade deadline, Allen found himself with the Iowa Wild – the worst team in the AHL last season. He has signed a one-year deal with Grand Rapids who along with San Antonio have made some of the most moves in the off-season and should have a stronger team this coming season.

AHL switches Jamie Devane goes from Milwaukee to Stockton. Tom McCollum goes from Grand Rapids to Ontario, and San Antonio looks to be an early Calder Cup threat after getting Avon native and Westminster Prep grad, Ben Smith. He leaves Toronto to go to the Rampage. Last season Smith played for both San Jose teams (NHL/AHL), the Sharks and the Barracuda. Both Toronto teams (NHL/AHL) Maple Leafs and Marlies.

Former UCONN player Jason Sims, son of ex-Whaler and Nighthawk Al Sims, signed with Cincinnati (ECHL) for next season. Last year, he played with Evansville (ECHL) and got a last weekend of the season recall to San Jose (AHL). Father Al has coached the first San Jose Sharks team.

Wolf Pack defenseman Calle Andersson’s younger brother, Rasmus, has signed to a three-year, two-way deal with Calgary. They originally drafted him in the second-round, 53rd overall in 2015. He will be in Stockton next season after playing at Barrie (OHL) the last two years. The younger Andersson like Calle is a right-handed shooting defenseman.

Their father Peter, a former Rangers’ player in the 1980’s, has a new coaching gig with Malmo IF in the Swedish Hockey League (AHL) after getting fired last year with HC Lugano (Switzerland-LNA).

Ex-CT Whale Lee Baldwin goes from ESV Kaufburen (Germany DEL-2) to Braehead (Scotland-EIHL).

Quinnipiac sophomore Brayden Scherbinin heads back to Canada to play university hockey with the University of Calgary Dinosaurs (CWUAA) the defenseman had just five assists in two years and played sparingly.

The next batch of NCAA college hockey Frozen Four and regional bids have been accepted last week for the tournament years running from 2019-2022. The first cuts and finalists will be announced on October 28th, and then the finalists to host the hockey regionals and the Frozen Four tournament will be announced by the NCAA on December 7th.

Hartford would be a great location central highway arteries, with plenty of hotels and restaurants in the area. They’d be terrific for a regional, but without a new XL Center, a bid can’t be made.

CANTLON’S CORNER: GUESS WHO’S BACK FOR THE PACK…OR IS HE… PACK OFF-SEASON REPORT

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT –  There’s always speculation on a team that didn’t make the playoffs in who’s coming back and who isn’t. The Hartford Wolf Pack have, as most AHL teams do, had some turnover. One player who’s future was an unknown had that question answered this past week.

MALCOLM IS BACK

Last season’s best insurance policy in the Pack net, Jeff Malcolm, has been resigned by the Rangers to an AHL deal for the 2016-17 season.

The question for Malcolm though is, “Will he be in Hartford or Greenville?

Looking at the goalie depth chart with Magnus Hellberg (making $100K-AHL last season), Mackenzie Skapski in the final year of his entry-level deal ($65K-AHL) and rookie Brandon Halverson (starting the first year of a three entry level contract) Greenville seems more likely for Malcolm.

We thought that last season too, but he spent significant time in Hartford early in the year because both Mackenzie Skapski (right hip labrum)i and Cedrick Desjardins (torn right ACL) were coming major surgeries in the off season.

Malcolm spent a better part of the second half as Magnus Hellberg’s backup when Skapski had troubles in net and was dispatched to Greenville was highly respected by his teammates and coaching staff on how he handled the backup role. Malcolm won some significant games including a critical 3-0 shutout in Springfield on March 20th in the Pack’s valiant, but unsuccessful bid to make the Calder Cup playoffs.

Malcolm’s season was ended prematurely in the waning weeks of the regular season suffering a fractured larynx in practice taking a shot similar to Providence Malcolm Subban injury and was rushed to a local surgeon for successful emergency surgery,

Malcolm, is entering amazingly his fourth pro season in 2016-17, and his first three seasons have all been in the Wolf Pack/New York Ranger organization. Last season, he played a career-high 14 AHL games with the Wolf Pack and tied his AHL career best in wins with seven, going 7-5-0 in AHL action. The 6-2, 185-pound Malcolm also established personal AHL bests of a 2.41 goals-against average and a 91.2% save percentage, and registered his first two career AHL shutouts.

Malcolm also appeared in nine ECHL games with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits recording a record of 5-2-2 with a 3.40 GAA and an 89.4% save percentage. Malcolm also played in the ECHL All-Star game.

Originally signed by the Wolf Pack on July 17, 2013, Malcolm has seen action in 31 career AHL games, posting a 15-12-0 record, a 2.78 GAA and a 90.3% save percentage. In 64 total ECHL outings with Greenville, Malcolm is 35-21-6, with a 2.79 GAA, a 91.3% save percentage and one shutout.

Malcolm capped off his four-year Yale career in 2012-13 by backstopping the Bulldogs to their first-ever NCAA “Frozen Four” title in school history. Malcolm was 20-6-2 in 30 appearances for Yale in 2012-13, with a 2.24 goals-against average, a 91.9% save percentage and three shutouts. Those numbers represented the second-highest single-season win total, the third-best save percentage and fourth-lowest GAA in Yale Men’s Hockey history. Malcolm also finished second among ECACHL goaltenders in wins and tied for third in shutouts.

In his four years at Yale, Malcolm appeared in 67 games, amassing a record of 36-21-4 with a 2.60 GAA, a 90.7% save percentage and six shutouts. Those stats rank him fourth all-time in school history in wins, GAA and save percentage.

ON THE MOVE

Former Wolf Pack Alex Krushelnyski, son of former New York Ranger, Mike Krushelnyski, signs an AHL deal with Binghamton.

Former Wolf Pack forward Andrew Rowe, who played for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers where he added seven goals and eight points in eleven games before an injury prematurely ended his season, has signed a one-year AHL deal with them for the upcoming season. The Sound Tigers also signed Finnish goalie Christopher Gibson for a one-year, two-way deal.

Eric O’Dell, who split the year with Rochester and Binghamton, signs with HK Sochi (Russia-KHL). Joining him in AHL’ers heading to Europe include Greg Rallo of Texas who goes to Iserlohn (Germany-DEL) and Drew Shore Stockton to EHC Kloten (Switzerland-LNA). Clark Seymour of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to HC Bolzano (Italy-AEHL).

The AHL to Euro list now stands at 70.

Ex-Pack defenseman Vladimir Denisov re-signs with Traktor Chelyabinsk (Russia-KHL).

Former Sound Tigers goalie in 2005-06, Frederic Cloutier, goes from Kookoo (Finland Division-1) to Asiago AS (Italy-AlpsHL).

Ex-Pack and Sound Tiger, Mark Lee, split last year between Italy (SHC Fassa) and Denmark (SonderjyskE) signs with ETC Crimmitschau (Germany DEL-2).

Ex-CT Whale, Shayne Wiebe, leaves EHC Olten (Switzerland-LNB) for HC Val Pusteria (Italy-AlpsHL).

Former Quinnipiac Bobcat and Sound Tiger, Mike Dalhuisen, goes from Esbjerg(Denmark) to Torpedo Kamenogorsk (Russia-VHL).

Former Salisbury Prep player Kevin Quick goes from Nottingham (England-EIHL) to Beijing to play for the China Dragon in the ALIH (Asia League Ice Hockey) team.

Several new assistant coaches were named in the AHL this week. Ex-Sound Tiger Jay Leach and Trent Whitfield join Kevin Dean’s staff in Providence. Leach comes over from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Whitfield from Calgary (WHL). Leach was a captain with Providence and when he played at Providence College. Whitfield was also a P-Bruins captain and AHL All-Star selection finished his playing career in Portland wearing the “C” as well.

Chris Taylor from Rochester and JD Forrest (EC Salzburg-2 in Austria) become a part of Clark Donatelli’s staff in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Jason King was named an assistant with Utica moving over from St. John’s where he spent the last three years, two of them as an assistant coach and the final year as the Director of Hockey Operations.

The defending Calder Cup champion Lake Erie Monsters will enter their tenth year this upcoming season and drop the Lake Erie name and become the Cleveland Monsters. After the poor run both on and off the ice as the Cleveland Barons they adopted the Lake Erie prefix and have become one of the best franchises in the AHL. They join a city of champions along with fellow tenant at Q, the NBA champion, Cleveland Cavaliers.

AHL switches have seen Albany lose two defensemen, Brandon Burlon, who signs with Tucson and Dan Kelly signs with San Jose.

Mike Angelidis, Syracuse’s captain the last four years and who had some memorable battles against the Wolf Pack, heads West and signs an AHL deal with Stockton.

Former Yale defenseman Gus Young goes from San Jose (AHL) to Chicago (AHL).

Going from Stockton, after spending half the year in Adirondack (ECHL) and Charlotte, is forward Mitch Heard.

American International College (AIC) who play in the Atlantic Hockey Conference (AHC) in Springfield is leaving the West Springfield Olympia Arena and will make the MassMutual Center their new home starting this fall along with the AHL Springfield Thunderbirds.

AHL teams will be wearing their white uniforms at home until Christmas break and then switch to the darker uniforms after the holidays. The Wolf Pack will also be unveiling new jerseys to mark their 20th anniversary season.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has unveiled a new look as their parent team of the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and they will adopt the Penguins look from their Stanley Cup winning era in 1991 and 1992.

AEG, the former operator of the XL Center, continues their restructuring of their worldwide hockey portfolio. Here in the states, they were replaced as the building operator of the Ontario Citizen Business Bank Arena. They had a ten-year run that’s started in October 2008 when the building opened at a cost of $150 million. SMG also runs the Ontario (CA) Convention Center and signed a five-year deal with a five-year option to start managing the facility. The deal became effective on July 1st.

AEG will still own and operate the AHL Ontario Reign. They did divest themselves of the ECHL Manchester Monarchs to the Boston-based PPI Sports LLC after 16 years. The Monarchs were in the AHL for 15 years winning their lone Calder Cup in 2015, their last year in the AHL. The organization flipped their franchises as part of the creation of the AHL Pacific Division. The ECHL Monarchs were the ECHL East Division champs last season.

The Kings will still be their ECHL affiliate next season, but are no longer under their umbrella. They could see a change in affiliation in a few years as part of the overall minor league restructuring that has been underway the last two years. The NHL/AHL/ECHL, 31/31/31 (eventually 32/32/32) model will marry the franchises and keep them closer to each other to reduce overall costs in travel and salary as part of the current NHL-CBA agreement.

AEG shut the doors of one of their two German DEL teams, the Hamburg Freezers in June, who drew over 9,000 per game.

One-time AHL Eddie Shore winner, Andy Delmore, goes from the University of Windsor (OUAA) to Toledo (ECHL) to be their assistant coach.

In a big collegiate move, Quinnipiac University (ECACHL) scored a transfer coup as Boston University’s (HE) Brandon Fortunato will become a Bobcat after sitting out the mandatory NCAA one-year transfer waiting period in 2017-18. He is still eligible to play junior hockey in the USHL since he doesn’t turn 21 until next June. The Fargo Force (USHL hold his rights 2014) still have his rights. He was originally drafted by Green Bay (USHL) in 2012 and the following year by Vityaz Podolsk in the KHL Draft.

SUMMER HOCKEY

The US squad at the Ivan Hlinka tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia captured silver despite losing 4-3 to the host Czech Republic. The US squad received a strong performance from Cayden Primeau in net with 33 saves. The trophy returned to the host country for the first time in nine years that Canada didn’t win.

The US team advanced to the semifinals beating the Czechs 4-2 on the strength of a Ryan Poehling hat trick. Primeau, the son of ex-Whaler Keith Primeau, made 24 saves.

Poehling played this year at Lakeville H.S. in Minnesota where the assistant coach is former Wolf Pack defenseman, Jake Taylor.

The American team knocked off the Russians 4-3 in overtime in the semi-finals overcoming three one-goal deficits. Primeau was named the game MVP with 38 saves.

The Wolf Pack’s current assistant coach and assistant GM, Pat Boller, is one of the team’s assistant coaches.

At the Five Nations Tournament, that’s being held in Frisco, Texas – where the temperature outside was 105-107 degrees with a heat index of 112 or better – made being in the ice arena the place to be.

The American squad won the tournament for the second season in a row . The team went undefeated (4-0-0) and beat Germany 9-2 while outshooting their opponents, 54-13. They outscored the opposition 31-6 over the four games.

The team features some familiar names of sons of ex-Whalers.

Christian Krygier, the son of Whalers/UCONN/Nighthawk fame, Todd Krygier, earned two assists in the final game and had five points over the four games all assists.

Jack Drury, the son of Ted Drury and nephew to the Rangers Director of Player Development, Chris Drury of Trumbull, scored his first goal of the tournament along with four assists.

The US U-17 squad beat Switzerland 6-2 in the first game.

Krygier earned two assists in the first game while Drury picked up an assist.

In their second game, the US crushed Slovakia 10-1 at the Dr. Pepper Arena with Drury providing three assists and Krygier adding a helper.

The American squad then beat the Czech Republic 6-1 in the third game. Drury picked up another assist.

Both Drury and Krygier will play US junior hockey in the fall. Krygier will play with Lincoln (USHL) while Drury with Waterloo (USHL).

The team GM is Ken Rausch (Danbury) who played high school hockey at Immaculate High.

The Czech team features defenseman Zack Malik, son of former Whalers, Rangers and Beast of New Haven defenseman, Marek Malik.

The Canadian team had ex-New Haven Senator Darren Rumble as one of their assistant coaches.

ISLANDERS SAGA

The soap opera that is the New York Islanders and the Nassau Coliseum got a bit more interesting last week.

The New York Post reported that secret talks are underway for the possible return to the Coliseum. A Chief Nassau county official neither confirmed or denied that on the possibilities. Read the latest saga HERE!